Is it Ever OK Not to go Out Cycling!?

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I’m writing this post basically because I’ve got “the snots” as my children would say or “man flu” as my partner supportively alludes to it and also because, despite my terrible illness, and because I’m a proper man, I still went out on my bike yesterday and did interval training.

Yes, no big girl’s blouse wimping out for me. I’ve got a training schedule to stick to, I’m tough, have resolve of steel and (well maybe not the body to match it!) quite like the idea of heroically fighting against the odds and then being able to complain to the family about it afterwards in the vain hope of eliciting some sympathy for my terrible plight.

No such luck there then!

It was an OK cycle ride. Cold and windy, and I felt a bit energyless but glad I did it when I got back. The main issue was one of a horrific streaming nose and the constant fight against gravity to keep the contents of my nose in place or at least deposit them somewhere other than down my face, across my cheeks, over innocent passing pedestrians etc etc……..

Oh dear!

Anyway, the point is I still went out on my bike but it did make me question what would actually prevent me from cycling, when is it OK not to go out cycling? Is it ever morally permissible to miss a training ride and how many pathetic excuses could I come up with not to ride with a little bit of effort?

From my own point of view, joking aside, I can be bit of an “all or nothing” sort of bloke and I will either stick to something with the blinkered tenacity of a Terrier after a ferret or not bother at all. Sometimes I’m not good at the bit in between where there’s a bit of give and take, maybe a bit of common sense or negotiation to be had. That’s not to say I’m unreasonable and one of my great personal strengths is being able to see both sides of an argument but I’m a great one for either doing something properly and following it through or not at all.

That said, in a revelatory flash of self discovery, I also know that I’m an awesome procrastinator, a wonderful dreamer rather than do – er and have a propensity for laziness.

Enough of the deep self analysis, clearly I’m just a deep and conflicted individual……

Anyway, the point is, that despite our best intentions, it can be very easy to put off doing what we know, in the long term is good for us despite the fact that there may be a little immediate discomfort. Think going to the dentist, eating your greens or watching educational documentaries rather than Family Guy.

Cycling is the same. You know it’s great, you know it’s physically and mentally good for you, you know it makes sense but…..

……it’s cold outside, you can’t find the garage key,

This is fun…….let’s think up some more pathetic excuses for not going cycling (some of which I may possibly have used myself) before then getting onto the meat and potatoes which are the actual real true life honest to goodness and ONLY reasons that, in extreme circumstances it is OK to not go cycling.

Ok, here goes…….the cat needs your company and can’t be left alone, there’s too much traffic, it’s too rainy, too windy, too foggy, too hot, the football’s on the TV, I have a cold, my cycling kit needs washing, my cycling kit is still damp after washing, I’d rather have a beer, my sunglasses are broken, there’s always tomorrow, I deserve a day off, my legs ache, my back aches, I have a scratch on my finger.

Pathetic! Grows some balls and mount that bloody bike!

However, seriously for a while now, there are some times when it really is permissible and completely the right thing not to go out on the bike, break the training routine and re prioritise:

1.When Someone Really Needs You

Sometimes we just have to down tools and be there for other people and it would be obviously completely wrong to not be there and we can feel completely at ease that it’s the right thing to do. Family members, friends even work colleagues and situations will make demands upon our time and, when the rubber really hits the road it’s important to be there for people.

In an extraordinary or emergency situation this is an easy decision to make but, conversely we also need to know when to priorities our own well being and time as well. You need to work out where the line is and what’s reasonable – particularly in the context of the demands of work time and commitments.

I’m also firmly of the belief that, in order to help and serve other people to the best of our abilities, we need to look after ourselves first. If we’re run down, depressed and exhausted it’s fairly much impossible to help others. Taking time for yourself and, at times, when it’s reasonable prioritising yourself is a bit like filling our batteries up. Cycling is just the sort of battery topping up activity that shouldn’t be missed lightly.

2.When you are Properly Ill

Cycling, particularly if you cycle energetically, puts the body under stress and it’s exactly this type of stress and build process that makes us stronger and fitter over time. However, if your body’s immune system is already fighting something off cycling could potentially make you feel worse and slow down your recovery.

Very often it just doesn’t make sense to cycle when you are ill. Particularly if you have some sort of injury as well and some time off the bike recuperating is a much better idea.

However, sometimes it’s just a case of mind over matter and, if you are feeling a bit sluggish, have a headache or head cold then a brisk cycle ride can be great for clearing your head and you will feel invigorated and refreshed when you get back. It’s said that if you are ill below the neck e.g you have a chest cold or something similar then you should refrain from cycling. If it’s just a sore throat or stuffy head cold then cycling’s fine.

Use your common sense and bear in mind that cycling should basically be an enhancing and positive experience. There’s no point in trudging out when you’re feeling ill and coming back suffering and feeling awful – it sort of misses the point of the whole exercise.

Obviously, if you in any way seriously concerned about your health or whether you are fit and able to cycle you need to consult your doctor. If in serious doubt then don’t risk it.

3.When the Weather is Dangerous

……I’m considering adding to this and saying when the weather is really, really unpleasant but, on reflection I think that cycling in the rain, into strong headwinds and similar meteoric unpleasantness is character building so I’m not going to say that! I’m currently sitting on my sofa with my laptop, nice and warm and comfy though so I’m not in the best position to pass judgement!

So, cycling when it’s icy and slippery, very very dangerously windy, extremely hot or extremely cold…….these are all forgivable times for not going out on the bike! I think it’s always important to think about the worst case scenario and I have often been out in sub zero temperatures on my bike which is fine when you are moving and cycling but I do worry about what would happen if I got a puncture on an exposed road in these conditions. Changing the inner tube would be very, very cold and unpleasant – possibly not extremely dangerous in the UK but worth considering at least.

BTW you can always get a turbo trainer so that you can train indoors. No excuses now!

4.Finally, when your bike is broken

This is a great excuse. Of course you should have a back up bike (!) for such eventualities but, if your bike isn’t road worthy, is making a weird clonking sound or the brakes don’t work then you should, of course, spend your cycling time fixing it pronto or taking it down to your nearest cycling shop to be mended! Safety is paramount and if there is any doubt in your mind about the road worthiness of your trusty steed then don’t risk it.

Have you been procrastinating over whether to go for a ride or not? Have you been wasting valuable riding time reading this blog post or trying to convince yourself that just because you sneezed this morning? If so, then get off your butt and ride! Generally speaking the world always looks like a happier place from on a bike and certainly the post bike ride feeling is great so, unless you have a serious excuse, do yourself a favour and get in the saddle!

Do you agree with my reasoning? Can you think of any other circumstances when you shouldn’t cycle that I’ve missed?

Leave a comment below and let me know what you think!

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